Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Review: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Tags: YA, romance, Paris, boarding school


Anna Oliphant is far from pleased that her successful writer father has sent her to a school in Paris for her senior year of high school. She had been counting on spending as much time with her best friend and working on developing a possible romance between her and her crush. Instead, Anna now has to deal with a whole new language, a new city, and a new set of classmates.

Luckily, Anna quickly makes some good friends, including Etienne St. Clair, a charming, good-looking, and genuinely nice boy with a British accent, family troubles, and a gorgeous girlfriend. Anna and St. Clair hit it off immediately, but are they meant to be something more, when there seem to be so many obstacles against them?


If you’re craving a heartfelt contemporary YA romance with splendid character development, you absolutely must check out Stephanie Perkins’ debut novel. Set against the wondrous backdrop of Parisian city life, ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS is nevertheless a thoroughly down-to-earth book with a realistic romance guaranteed to warm the core of your very being.

Anna and St. Clair’s relationship is nearly unmatched in terms of realistic development. Anna does initially acknowledge St. Clair’s looks—but he turns out to be so much more than just a pretty face. If you like nice guys, then St. Clair is your man. He’s friendly, sensitive, and loyal, exactly the kind of guy that every girl should have. As Anna and St. Clair gradually become friends and then perhaps something more, readers will no doubt be able to relate to the alternating giddiness and tensions that are all part of a budding romance.

If St. Clair is the perfect nice guy, then Anna feels a bit like the everygirl. She’s believably uncertain when circumstances call for it, yet she is also not entirely a social pariah and is able to make friends. I would’ve liked a bit more exploration of Anna and St. Clair’s family troubles, but it hardly deterred from my enjoyment of their story. Stephanie Perkins also makes great use of the story’s setting: Anna and St. Clair wander Paris with the fascination and familiarity that a foreign student in an amazing city would feel.

Stephanie Perkins has written a wonderful contemporary YA novel that will no doubt work its way into many readers’ hearts. I’m genuinely looking forward to more wonderful stories by this talented author!

Similar Authors
Sarah Dessen
Carolyn Mackler
Morgan Matson

Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 4/5

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Cover discussion: 2.5 out of 5 - I'm not the biggest fan. I can believe that the model is Anna--oh wait, where is her hair streak?? And since you're showing Anna's face, why not show St. Clair's, I'd like to see him and "awww" over him, thx. It just feels kind of blandly forced to me. I want more pizzazz! More charm!

Dutton Juvenile / Dec. 2, 2010 / Hardcover / 384pp. / $16.99

ARC received unsolicited from publisher.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Where in the world...?

I'm alive! I promise. But I have been, uh, sort of...not all here...mentally? By which I only mean that I have been thinking a whole lot this past week or so, what with it being Thanksgiving break and me finally being able to get away from the school environment and think about bigger issues, such as LIFE, and the FUTURE, and LOVE, and all that jazz. So I've been thinking a lot, trying to figure out life and where I stand on important issues, which has been working better when I'm not online as often.

I'm okay, I promise. :) I will be writing blog posts about stuff I've been thinking about soon, and I'm pretty interested in those. Thanks for your patience while I'm wandering around inside my head!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Review: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Tags: YA, boarding school, family, turf wars


Taylor Markham’s mother abandoned her by the Jellicoe School when she was eleven. Now a Year 12 student, Taylor is in charge of the Jellicoe students holding their own in a traditional turf war against the townies and the visiting Cadets. At the same time she also worries about the disappearance of Hannah, the one adult she’s close to in her life.

Interspersed with Taylor’s story is the story about five teenagers that Hannah is writing. The stories interweave beautifully as Taylor discovers what all these people have to do with her past.


Everyone wants to discover life-changing things, whether they come in the form of events, people, paintings, or books. If you’re lucky, you will experience these encounters more than once.

I was lucky. I read JELLICOE ROAD. This extraordinary book changed my life, and maybe it will change yours, too.

To tell the truth, JELLICOE ROAD kind of ruins you temporarily for all other books. For several days after I finished this book, I wandered around in a daze. I picked up books, halfheartedly read the first few pages, then put them down and wandered away. Nothing seemed to match the magical dream-come-true that was genius author Melina Marchetta’s third novel.

It starts out confusingly. What’s going on? Why is there so much tension between all these people? Who are they, anyway? What do they want? Why are they so serious about their situation? But then, invariably, you’ll get sucked in. It’s probably a little like how the average person might fall in love: you can’t pinpoint exactly when someone became special to you, all you can say is that it happened, and you can’t even remember back to a time when they weren’t special to you.

The narration and plot progression of the book reads like a dream: choppy and distracted in a whimsical manner. Don’t expect a conventional story arc, or you’ll probably get really frustrated. Best if you just let it happen as it does.

JELLICOE ROAD reads like someone laughing through tears. I couldn’t help but smile as Taylor, Jonah, and the others endeared themselves to me even before I could figure out what was going on between them all, even as their painful discoveries about their tragic pasts tugged at my heartstrings.

A story this magnificent, this heartbreaking, shouldn’t have this much hope…but it does. That’s the beauty of this book. Melina Marchetta has written a book that is so much more than a simple story in words: it takes on a life of its own.

Similar Authors
Cath Crowley

Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Plot: 5/5

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 (duh.)

Cover discussion: 4 out of 5 - Something about colors and abstractions.... oh, does it even matter, since the inside is so precious?!

HarperCollins / March 9, 2010 / Paperback (reprint) / 419pp. / $8.99

Copy bought.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

In My Mailbox (51)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme inspired by Alea and hosted by Kristi. Check out Kristi's post to see what others got in terms of books this week!

This is two weeks' worth... and no pictures because I am exhausted.

For review:
Luka and the Fire of Life by Salman Rushdie
Afterlife by Claudia Gray
Condoleezza Rice: A Memoir of my Extraordinary Ordinary Family and Me by Condoleezza Rice
Wither by Lauren DeStefano
The Lying Game by Sara Shepard
Fallen Angel by Heather Terrell
Tempestuous by Lesley Livingston
Teeth edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Entwined by Heather Dixon
The Tapestry, Book 3: The Fiend and the Forge by Henry H. Neff

Thank you, Random House, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster!

From Around the World Tours:
Girl Saves Boy by Steph Bowe
XVI by Julia Karr

Pink by Lili Wilkinson

Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood
Slice by Steven Herrick

These books are thanks to fantabulous Trish from Australia, who knows all too well how interested I am in Aussie YA lit and so sent over a few of the best! Thank you SO much!

Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin
Beat the Band by Don Calame
Tempo Change by Barbara Hall
The Exiled Queen by Cinda Williams Chima
This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer
The Mermaid's Mirror by L. K. Madigan
What They Always Tell Us by Martin Wilson
Devil's Kiss by Sarwat Chadda
Freaks and Revelations by David Wills Hurwin
Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Standiford

The end! Whew. Now I'm going back to eating my freshly baked banana bread. Yay! Also: not that long until Thanksgiving! More yays!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Author Interview + Giveaway (T2T): Jenny Davidson!

Today I'm hosting Jenny Davidson, author of The Explosionist and the recently released Invisible Things, as part of her Traveling to Teens tour for Invisible Things! I was supposed to also post a review but unfortunately school caught up to me, so I hope to be able to do that maybe in the future. :( However, I'm lucky enough to have Jenny stop by and answer a few questions for us. Welcome, Jenny, to Steph Su Reads!

1. Your books are set in an alternate-history Europe, with a combination of steampunk and magic elements. Do you have any favorite steampunk books? Magic books?

Magic books: too many to count! Diana Wynne Jones is a particular favorite, as is Robin McKinley. Two of my inspirations for The Explosionist & Invisible Things were Philip Pullman and Garth Nix - I had read the His Dark Materials trilogy and the Abhorsen trilogy and wanted to write something that I would like as much as I liked those...

Steampunk books: I like The Difference Engine, which I think is one of the classics of the steampunk genre; but the book I really love is Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age.

2. There is a large cast of interesting characters in your books. Which character was the hardest to write?

Sophie is the easiest character for me to write, since she is much like me. I guess in certain respects Mikael is the hardest - he has to be a real living teenage boy, and as vivid to the reader as he is to Sophie, and yet there are things that Sophie doesn't really know or understand about him.

3. Can you tell us about your academic job at Columbia University?

I have been teaching at Columbia for about ten years now - it was the first job I got out of graduate school (I did my PhD in eighteenth-century British literature at Yale). I love teaching at Columbia - the students are absolutely fabulous, and New York is the best place to live that I can possibly imagine. The craziest class I teach is probably a seminar on Samuel Richardson's novel Clarissa, which is almost a million words long - it is an enthralling and strange reading experience, a bit like delving into Proust's also massively long novel In Search of Lost Time.

4. Who are some of your favorite authors?

I've already named some of my favorite YA authors. I love all different kinds of books. Favorite crime writers include Peter Temple, Ken Bruen and Lee Child; I am always excited for a new novel by Jonathan Lethem, William Boyd, Mary Gaitskill.

5. What is the most memorable vacation you have ever been on?

There are a few contenders: I had an amazing trip to Russia in the summer of 2000, for instance. But I think I will have to say that the most unusual vacation I ever went on was the trip I took a year and a half ago to run a marathon in Antarctica! There was this moment where the expedition director told us over the intercom to look out over the side of the ship, and there was an ice floe with an enormous seal just sunning itself on top of the ice - we saw whales and seals of all sorts, and vast numbers of penguins. The ice in Antarctica is an amazing pale blue, like Windex meringue.

6. Recommend to YA readers some classic, non-YA works of literature they should read.

I think my two absolute favorite classic novelists are Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. A YA reader who has not read Emma or David Copperfield has treats in store! I also reread War and Peace this summer, and I must say that I think it is an enthralling page-turner - truly a novel in which one immerses oneself with delight and pleasure.


Thanks, Jenny! That trip to Antarctica sounds SO cool; wish I could do that. Be sure to check out the rest of Jenny's tour!

About The Explosionist:

A series of mysteries.
An explosion of truths.
The Explosionist: Someone sets off a bomb outside fifteen-year-old Sophie's boarding school, but no one can figure out who.
The Medium: Soothsayers and séance leaders are regular guests at her great-aunt's house in Scotland, but only one delivers a terrifying prophecy, directed at Sophie herself.
The Murder: When the medium is found dead, Sophie and her friend Mikael know they must get to the bottom of these three mysteries in order to save themselves—even as the fate of all Europe hangs in the balance.
Set in a time of subversive politics, homegrown terrorism, and rapidly changing alliances, The Explosionist is an extraordinarily accomplished debut novel for teens that delivers a glimpse of the world as it might have been—had one moment in history been altered.

About Invisible Things:

Sixteen-year-old Sophie knows there is more to the story of her parents' death. And she's on a mission to find the truth. To aid her in solving the decades-old mystery, Sophie has enlisted her best friend, Mikael, whose friendship has turned into something more. It's soon clear that Sophie's future is very much wrapped up in the details of her family's past, and the key lies with information only one man can provide: her parents' former employer, the elusive billionaire Alfred Nobel.
As the threat of war looms in Europe, dangers to Sophie and her loved ones grow. While her determination to solve the mystery doesn't waver, forces beyond her control conspire to keep her from her purpose. Then, news of her great-aunt Tabitha's death sets off a chain of events that leaves Sophie questioning everything.
The more Sophie learns, the more she realizes that nothing—and no one—in her life is what it seems. And coming to terms with the dark secrets she uncovers means imagining a truth that she never dreamed possible. Full of gorgeous settings, thrilling adventure, and romance, invisible things is a novel that dares to ask, what if?

Summaries from Amazon.

The Explosionist is now available from HarperTeen, and Invisible Things will be available from HarperTeen on November 23, 2010. You can, however, also enter for a chance to win a hardcover of The Explosionist and a signed ARC of Invisible Things! To enter, please fill out the form here, making sure to answer the question relevantly. This giveaway is open to US mailing addresses only, and ends Friday, December 10, 2010. Good luck!

Don't forget to check out the rest of the blog tour schedule on Traveling to Teens.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Tags: YA, dystopian, romance, love triangle


Cassia's Society is perfect. The Society's Officials calculate all the data and give you what's best for you: your job, your food intake, and most especially your Match, the person with whom you'd be perfect and raise a family.

At Cassia's Matching ceremony, she feels glad when her best friend Xander's image appears as her ideal mate. However, a glitch in the software reveals another's image: Ky, a reserved boy in her neighborhood with an unusual history. Cassia can't help but feel all the more attracted to Ky as she learns more about him. With things starting to crumble all around them--tense, missing Officials, mistakes that should not have been made--what does the future hold for Cassia and the two most important boys in her life?


MATCHED is quite possibly the most highly anticipated YA novel of late 2010, what with its incredible 7-figure book deal announced earlier this year. So it is to be expected that readers will come into story with high expectations. While MATCHED does not quite live up to all its hype, it is still a relatively powerful dystopian work that will keep you up late reading.

The most stunning part of this book, the thing that made me want to give this book a 5-star rating right off the bat, is its world-building. It is all too easy to do a half-assed job of creating a frightening believable future world. Thankfully, Ally Condie is no fool, and the world of the Society is one that thrums with realistically nervous energy. The world is laid out for us from the first chapter, told with an almost hypnotic narration. I don't think I've seen kind of dystopian worldbuilding this convincing since Lois Lowry's The Giver. (The world in The Hunger Games, of course, is excellent, but it is a low-tech kind of world, whereas the worlds in both MATCHED and The Giver are more high-tech, which involves a different kind of world-building.)

While the writing was fantastic, I felt like there were pieces missing from the characterization and plot. I enjoyed Cassia's relatable wavering between being the perfectly obedient citizen, the way she's been her whole life, and daring to question and doubt. However, I found that I wasn't able to connect with the developing romance between Cassia and Ky the way I wanted to, the way the story needs readers to in order for everything to be justified. Ky is an interesting character, to be sure, but neither of them did much throughout the story. I understand that under such a heavily surveillanced Society, it would be almost impossible for Cassia and Ky to develop love the way we know it, but still. That was what the story needed to do in order for everything else to fall into place, whether it's near impossible or not, and unfortunately that aspect didn't pull through for me.

MATCHED is a highly accomplished work of literature. Ally Condie quite obviously has a wonderful way with words, though the story part feels slightly lacking. I will hope that future installments in this series up the stakes in order to grab on hard to me and never let me go.

Writing: 4/5
Characters: 3/5
Plot: 3/5

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Cover discussion: 4 out of 5 - It is breathtaking. Shiny and simple and straightforward, both beautiful and creepy, like Cassia's world.

Penguin / Nov. 30, 2010 / Hardcover / 384pp. / $17.99

ARC picked up at BEA.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (91)

The Hunt of the Unicorn by C. C. Humphreys

Elayne thinks the old family story that one of her ancestors stepped through a tapestry into a world of mythical beasts makes a great fireside tale. But she lives in the real world. In New York City. And she's outgrown that kind of fantasy.

Until she finds herself in front of a unicorn tapestry at the Cloisters museum and sees her initials woven into the fabric. And hears a unicorn calling to her. And slips and falls—into that other world.

Suddenly the line between fantasy and reality isn't so clear. But the danger is real enough. Almost before she can think, Elayne is attacked by a ferocious beast, rescued by a unicorn, and taken prisoner by a tyrant king. Each of them seems to have an idea about her—that she's a hero, a villain, dinner!

But Elayne has a few ideas of her own. She wants to overthrow the king; she wants to tame the unicorn. She wants to go home! And she's willing to become both hero and villain to do it. [summary from Goodreads]

With that badass cover, and a synopsis that promises the potential of both fantastical action adventure and a little bit of contemporary humor and snark thrown in, I think this book is really promising!

The Hunt of the Unicorn will be published in hardcover from Knopf Books for Young Readers on March 8, 2011.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Review: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Tags: YA, French Revolution, grief, music, guitar, time travel, magical realism, historical fiction


Andi’s life is in tatters. Her younger brother’s dead, her father’s a jerk, her mother’s going insane, and she might flunk out of her private high school if she doesn’t do an absolutely incredible job with her senior research project. All she wants to do is play her guitar. But on a winter break trip to Paris with her father, she discovers the diary of Alexandrine, a girl who lived during the terrifying years of the French Revolution. Andi gets sucked—literally—into Alex’s plight, reading about the girl’s futile determination to save the young last king-child of France.


I savored this book. I purposely read only a bit of it each day so that I could make it last. Jennifer Donnelly had already captured my heart with her previous YA book, A Northern Light. REVOLUTION is in many ways very different, but it is still a powerful, engrossing, and incredibly well-researched read.

At first, Andi comes off as a self-absorbed, apathetic, and emo teenager. But the book quickly becomes so much more than a typically angsty YA novel. While Andi’s attitude may get tiring at times, it is very obvious that she has been through a lot, that she has deep emotional pain that has been building for years and years. Her pain, in fact, makes her beautiful, the way she pours her soul into her music. It is an incredible honor that we get to see Andi on her healing journey.

The research that Jennifer Donnelly pours into REVOLUTION is lovingly evident. From Andi’s classical guitar knowledge to the contents of Alex’s diary, everything is incredibly well-researched and inserted into the story so naturally it almost feels like Andi’s story exists outside of the novel format.

REVOLUTION is an absorbing, interesting, and heartbreaking accomplishment of a novel. It defies categorization and should appeal to a wide range of readers. I don’t care that it took Jennifer Donnelly many many years to come out with her second YA novel: it was well worth the wait, as her future books will no doubt also be.

Writing: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
Plot: 4/5

Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Cover discussion: 4 out of 5 - Sighhh. What a simple concept, one that I might even say has been done before--and yet how exquisite. If you hold the finished copy, the ribbon is raised and the pages have a lovely texture.

Delacorte / Oct. 12, 2010 / Hardcover / 496pp. / $18.99

ARC picked up at BEA.

Monday, November 15, 2010

FRACTURED Blog Tour Guest Post: Joanna Karaplis!

Today I am hosting Joanna Karaplis, author of Fractured: Happily Ever After? 3 Tales, which retells several classic fairy tales, as part of her FRACTURED blog tour. Here is the synopsis:

Everyone knows a fairytale or two. They’re the kind of stories that seem to stick with you. Maybe it’s the magic. Maybe it’s the handsome prince. Or maybe they’re just the absolute perfect place to lose yourself for a little while.
But what would happen if Snow White were around today? Would Cinderella still need a fairy godmother? And would the Little Mermaid show up on YouTube?
Joanna Karaplis has put an unexpected spin on "Snow White", "Cinderella", and "The Little Mermaid"; she’s quietly fractured the stories and then reassembled them for the 21st Century. So, while there may not be a whole lot of horse-drawn carriages and magic potions, you can be sure that there will be at least one evil witch and maybe even a handsome prince (or two)…

Welcome, Joanna, to Steph Su Reads!

From Brainstorming to Publication: FRACTURED's Journey

Thanks for hosting me on your blog, Steph. I have a hard time forcing myself to stick to a writing schedule, so I find it impressive when bloggers post daily, or even weekly!

This book started back in 2008, when I went for coffee with my former co-worker, editor Tonya Martin. She told me she wanted to publish a book of fractured fairytales, and I said, “What a coincidence, I’ve been wanting to write something like that!” So I jotted down a bunch of notes—basically, the main plots of a handful of well-known fairytales—and then decided which ones I wanted to re-tell.

I sent Tonya short, two-page samples of “Snow White and the Seven Dorks” and “Cyberella.” She loved them—and asked for a third story to round off the collection. I’d had the idea for “The Little Mermaid” re-telling right from the beginning, but I wasn’t sure I could make it work, so I also drafted outlines for retellings of “Beauty and the Beast” and “Little Red Riding Hood.” In the end, though, I committed to “The Little Mermaid.”

The next step was to expand my short two-page stories into full-length short stories. Then I workshopped the stories with a creative writing group, which was really helpful. My writing group was able to tell me that Yuki’s relationship with Jason came out of the blue and didn’t seem realistic, and that Cindy came off as a bitch in the first draft. These are the kinds of things you can miss as a writer, since you already know your characters so well. So I did a lot of revising before submitting the final drafts to Tonya.

Everything happened pretty quickly after that. Tonya sent me her edits and I did some more tweaking (including changing the ending to “Swan Song”), and then I got to see the illustrations from Jenn Brisson that they’d commissioned for each story. Before I knew it, I was proofing the typeset pages and the final cover, and then the book was sent for printing. It was finally time to switch gears to marketing and promotion instead: hence this blog tour! Thanks again for having me.


Thanks, Joanna! Check out Joanna's website for more info about her or her book. And if you're interested, the rest of the blog tour schedule is below:

Nov. 15: Steph Su Reads and Word bookstore
Nov. 16: Word of Mouse Book Reviews and Bella’s Bookshelves
Nov. 17: The Reading Girl and Between the Pages
Nov. 18: Page Turners and Tahleen’s Mixed-Up Files
Nov. 19: YA Addict and YA Book Shelf

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Review: The Unidentified by Rae Mariz

Tags: YA, dystopian, technology, networking


Katey “Kid” Dade feels out of place in the Game, the futuristic school run by Corporations that observe everyone for market research. While her best friend embraces the hectic, consumerist, public lifestyle, Kid isn’t as concerned that she doesn’t have a large number of people subscribing to her stream, or that she is absolutely mediocre by Game standards.

Then Kid witnesses an unauthorized act of rebellion by a mysterious group called the Unidentified and gets pulled into a type of game of its own. What does this group want from the Corporations? Will Kid get played by these groups, or will she and her friends find a way to overthrow the organizations that have an eye, ear, and hand on them at all times?


It’s been a while since I’ve read a book that has impressed me, and so when I picked up and got instantly sucked into THE UNIDENTIFIED’s riveting and eerily familiar world, I was beside myself with happiness. THE UNIDENTIFIED is smart, well-written, and suspenseful, the perfect example of what dystopian literature should be: a fully realized and recognizable world without forgoing characterization and plot.

Rae Mariz impressively introduces us to a shocking and complex futuristic world, one in which privacy has no meaning thanks to the constant flow of information and technological interconnection. With Facebook’s recent introduction of the disconcertingly stalker-like “See Friendship” button, the issues regarding privacy that THE UNIDENTIFIED explores in such an entertaining and intelligent fashion are so much more immediately relevant. Rae Mariz succeeds in crafting for us a scarily plausible world that is possibly an inevitable extrapolation of the already network-filled world of Facebook and Twitter that we live in.

THE UNIDENTIFIED is smart, but it’s also hardly boring. Kid’s voice is fresh, with just the right amount of quippy attitude. She’s the perfect balance of the observant outsider with the propensity to create change, and the gullible market to which the Corporations are pandering. And Kid’s not the only interesting and well-developed characters. Her two best friends, Ari and Mikey, light up the page with their very different personalities whenever they appear in a scene. Even more minor characters are fully realized with their limited “on-page” time. The characterization is really an incredible accomplishment for a 300-something page book, which most might even consider short for modern dystopian novel standards.

I really wish I had the capacity to speak more about THE UNIDENTIFIED’s marvelous critique of the infiltration of networking websites in our lives. But I’ll leave that to the academics, and just let you know that this book does it, along with providing us a highly unputdownable adventure. I don’t think I can recommend this book enough. READ IT if you’re looking for smart and snappy dystopian literature.

Similar Authors
Cory Doctorow
George Orwell

Writing: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Plot: 5/5

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

Cover discussion: 3.5 out of 5 - I think it was designed to be disconcerting. The genericness of the face (so unlike how I imagined Kid's) superimposed with the bar codes...creepyyy.

Balzer + Bray / Oct. 5, 2010 / Hardcover / 304pp. / $16.99

Copy borrowed from library.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Featured Blogger (26): Brent from Naughty Book Kitties!

Brent of Naughty Book Kitties is a new but powerful voice in the YA blogosphere. His reviews are distinctive and always fun to read, and he's so passionate about the things he cares about. I'm honored that he's agreed to answer a few of my questions. Welcome, Brent, to Steph Su Reads!

1. Tell us about yourself in a few short sentences.

I’m Brent, and I’m a cheerleader (no really), gay boy, avid glitter-user, reader, blogger, and aspiring publishing aficionado. I’m fifteen and in Kentucky. Uh, I killed my goldfish two years ago, and am terribly devastated.

2. Tell us about your blog. When did you start it and why? Where did the name come from? What interesting things can visitors expect?

My blog! Yes, I’m married to Naughty Book Kitties. I started in March with my best friend Emily, just because we needed somewhere to talk about our crazy addiction to YA. Now it’s just me, as Emily got caught up in school (Hi, Em! You thought we forgot about you, huh?). The name? Dude, I will never be able to answer that question. I think I was high when I came up with the name “Naughty Book Kitties.” No, really.

3. What's the most memorable book event you've attended so far?

….I actually have never attended a book event. I know, my life is over, right?

4. You should try to soon! Can you name 3 favorite books and why you think everyone should read them?

The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd, because it is my bible.

Tricks by Ellen Hopkins, because it will both disgust you and make you see the beauty of the world.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, because it will teach you the value of a second, day, week, and year.

5. Besides reading and blogging, what other activities are you passionate about, that take up a lot of your time?

Shopping. I pretty much own Hollister, Borders, and Abercrombie.

6. One thing I really like about your blog is your distinct voice. What is some advice you'd give to new bloggers who want to stand out in the YA blogosphere?

Don’t be scared, and be original. I don’t know about you, but I’m a TEENAGER, and I really don’t want to hear “this novel was beautiful and poetic, the writer’s use of adjectives and pronouns is one of the best I‘ve seen in American contemporary literature” and I don’t want to read a literary analysis. Have fun with your blog, and don’t censor yourself. Speak out about books and topics that are important to you, and be original with your writing and voice.

7. Favorite junk foods?

Doritos! My god, I am a Dorito addict.

8. If you could change places with someone for one day, who would you be and why?

Danielle Steel. We’ve all set ourselves up to believe that she lives the perfect life of every person who reads/writes/loves books. And she’s written like five billion books!

9. What are some things you just LOVE to receive for presents? :)

Books and clothes! Books and clothes. :)

10. And finally, tell us 2 interesting things about yourself that can spark conversation.

I’m gay. Oh, it sure does spark conversation. :)
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, yet I’ve never gotten more than four-thousand words in a story. That’s like a fashion designer who’s scared of making clothes, right?


Hey, maybe you're cut out to be a short story writer, Brent. :) Well, whatever you end up do, I'm sure you'll do it splendidly with your passion and fun-loving personality. Thanks, Brent! Readers, be sure to stop over at Naughty Book Kitties if you haven't yet already.

Friday Featured Bloggers is an occasional feature on my blog in which I interview a blogger whom I respect and admire. To check out other bloggers who have been featured, click here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Discussion on Negative Reviews

Recently I've come across several posts written by authors in which they expressed their frustration and disappointment over negative reviews of their books written by bloggers. In these negative reviews, the reviewers essentially mocked, bashed, and personally attacked the author, his/her writing, and his/her book. This is not the first time something like this has come up, nor will it be the last.

Now, this is not a debate in which I will take one side or the other. We have all formulated our own opinions about this tricky overlapping spot in the world of writing, publishing, blogging, reviewing, and befriending people. I think it's safe to say that everyone needs to have thick, porous skin: the thickness to let the ridiculous bounce off, and the porous to let in alternate ways of thinking that you might not have considered before.

Here's what I think:

I think it's absolutely essential that we all be honest, straightfoward, and open-minded. Do you realize how many conflicts that escalate into something much, much worse could be avoided if the opposing parties just had an open and civil dialogue about it? So if a book really didn't work for a reviewer, it is that reviewer's right (and I would say responsibility, but I'm not saying that you need to go shout from the rooftops, "THIS BOOK SUCKS. DON'T EVER READ IT" aka the "anti-recommendation") to express his or her opinion about it, and why that book didn't work for him or her. If the book comes up in discussion with a group of people, I think the reader/reviewer has the right to quietly and politely express that the book didn't work for him/her, and to let that influence the reading decisions of the other people in whatever way it may.

It does NOT, however, give the reviewer the right to mock or attack the story's elements or the author's decisions when it comes to plot, characterization, etc.

Sure, we're pretty confused when we find, say,  yet another dependent, breathless, helpless, luuurv-me-or-I-have-no-reason-to-live protagonist in YA paranormal romance. But we don't have the right to write something in our review along the lines of, "I have NO idea why the author would EVER create such a brainless, spineless character. Also, I don't agree with said character's [decision 1], [decision 2], [decision 3]!"

Readers and reviewers, it's not our place to question the decisions that the author makes for his or her book. Those decisions were made a long time before the book reached our hands. To question those things would be like us whining about why a book character has green eyes instead of brown, or why an actor's costume contains a lot of blues and not purples, or why the MC has a soft spot for bad boys instead of nice guys. Those are set in stone: they are not for us to criticize.

I think there's a difference between a character making stupid decisions, and a character making stupid decisions that feel artificial to us. It can actually be a good thing when we get emotionally invested in a story and want to yell at the character, "What are you doing??? Why did you just say/do/think that??? Auuughhh!" But if a character does something that just makes us roll our eyes, or blink and mutter, "What?", or--worse--not care at all, I think that's, for lack of a better word, critique-able. If the character does something that's supposed to make us want to yell at them but instead causes us to react differently (e.g. roll our eyes or, God forbid, laugh), that disjuncture between intent and effect is something I think can, and maybe even should, be noted in a critical review. It's a tricky distinction, the one between author's intent and actually manifested reaction from the audience, but I think it's the crucial one.

The authors who wrote the blog posts also mentioned that the reviewers who had written the negative reviews were aspiring authors themselves, and they warned that this sort of unprofessional behavior will reflect on them badly when it comes time for these aspiring authors to query and make connections within the publishing world. I'm not disagreeing with them: professionalism is all the more important now that the Internet makes things so informal and accessible, and things that get on the Internet typically stay there forever. So you do have to watch how you present yourself online. I have watched both authors and bloggers get slammed for poor online conduct.

However, I'm not discouraging you from writing critical reviews, as long as it's done professionally, and all personal attacks remain out of the discussion. I think that it's natural for aspiring authors to examine books from a writer's point of view. I'm an aspiring author myself, and I always try to look for logical consistency within a book: Are the characters' behaviors believable? If fantastical elements are involved, do they follow the "grammar" of their world and not violate their own rules? Does the writing effectively portray what the author intends it to do? These are what I write about when I have to write a critical review. In no way do I wish to make a personal attack on the author. Would it really be that hard to take an extra 10 seconds before posting and put yourself in another's shoes, think about how you'd feel if someone said those things about your writing? Yeah, not so great, I'd imagine. So there's no need to make disparaging comments such as "I have no idea how [book name]/[author] got published." What if someone were to say that about your book in the future?

Sometimes, an author's writing just won't do it for you. And sometimes, authors, a blogger's reviewing style won't do it for you. So then you just quietly stay out of one another's way. Know what works for you and what doesn't, and immerse yourself in as little negative stimuli as possible. Neither party has the right to spread around your opinion as The Gospel. Trying to force upon others your opinion that "This blogger sucks, avoid his/her reviews" or "This author sucks, don't ever read his/her books" is the most obnoxious invasion of the private/public sphere disjuncture that can be done. It's okay if you didn't connect with someone's writing, and it's okay to express that politely, as long as you make it clear that it's YOUR opinion. It is NOT okay to try to push your opinions at others, or to think that anyone who doesn't share your opinion is idiotic and not worthy of being heard.

That is all.

Giveaway Winners

 The winner of a copy of Hush by Eishes Chayil is:

#126 Hendy!

The winner of a copy of Nothing Like You and Her and Me and You by Lauren Strasnick is:

#16 Tina!

The 2 winners of Clockwork Angel + swag by Cassandra Clare are:

#234 Amanda Leigh!
#278 Sarah!

Congratulations to the winners! I have contacted you all by email, so expect your prizes soon (if you haven't gotten them already. To everyone else, don't forget to enter the giveaways that are currently ongoing on my blog--links are on the right sidebar! Thanks!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (90)

The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta

Award-winning author Melina Marchetta reopens the story of the group of friends from her acclaimed novel Saving Francesca - but five years have passed, and now it’s Thomas Mackee who needs saving. After his favorite uncle was blown to bits on his way to work in a foreign city, Tom watched his family implode. He quit school and turned his back on his music and everyone that mattered, including the girl he can’t forget. Shooting for oblivion, he’s hit rock bottom, forced to live with his single, pregnant aunt, work at the Union pub with his former friends, and reckon with his grieving, alcoholic father. Tom’s in no shape to mend what’s broken. But what if no one else is either?
An unflinching look at family, forgiveness, and the fierce inner workings of love and friendship, The Piper’s Son redefines what it means to go home again. [summary from Goodreads]

The upcoming US edition of The Piper's Son (already out in Australia) now has a cover...and my my my, do I like it! Is that you on the cover, Thomas Mackee? Mind turning around so I can, er, have a face-to-face conversation with you? *cough*

In all seriousness, though, Melina Marchetta is one of my favorite authors, and there is no way she will disappoint me with this book. No way. I'm looking forward to slightly revisiting all of my beloved characters from Saving Francesca, as well as learning more about Thomas Mackee, that endearingly sullen, wannabe-rebellious musician.

The Piper's Son will be released in hardcover from Candlewick on March 8, 2011.

T2T Guest Post: Leila Sales!

Boy do I have something special for you today. As part of her Traveling to Teens tour, YA humor novelist Leila Sales, whose debut novel Mostly Good Girls was recently released, is visiting my blog today to give some advice about humor writing. Welcome, Leila, to Steph Su Reads!


I’ve already been over my big rules for humor writing: agreement, using gifts, the rule of three, callbacks, and being careful about digressions. I have one last tip for you! If this doesn’t work, nothing will! Ready for it?


This is probably my favorite of all humor-writing techniques. In practice, for me, it means “write in all caps,” or, “use a lot of exclamation points,” or, “include extreme adverbs that don’t necessarily make sense.”

An example from Mostly Good Girls, that epic tome (“Epic tome”= making things extreme. It’s not actually an epic tome. It’s like 350 pages, and it’s got some substantial margins.):

“Hey, do you want to go out some time?”

“Um.” I was already halfway out of the vehicle. “What?”

“Go out,” he said. “Some time.”

“Like on a date?”

“Sure,” Raymond said. “Yeah. I guess. Like on a date.”

“No,” I answered quickly because, like, why would I want to go on a date with Raymond? Not that there’s anything obviously wrong with him, but he is just some guy, and merely being a) male and b) my age is not reason enough for me to date someone. What I wanted to say to him was, “Are you honestly so delusional as to believe that we have anything in common? Did you consider your fifteen minute-long soliloquy about sports to be a successful conversation?”

But I couldn’t say that aloud. Because that is mean. So instead what I said, to soften the blow of my rejection, was, “Thanks for asking, but I’m actually not allowed to date.”

What makes this passage funny? One, the italics. I love the italics, not as much as I love the CAPS LOCK, but I have found over the years that copyeditors tend to get annoyed when you write in caps lock.

The second thing this passage has going for it is the phrase “to soften the blow of my rejection.” Violet’s rejection of Raymond is not a “blow.” He will not be devastated. He will forget about it by tomorrow. But the overstatement works.

Of course, the reader doesn’t bother to parse sentences like that. All a reader notices is whether something is funny, or boring. They don’t care why. But the writer sometimes has to care.

The best way to write is to learn from example, so in the next post of my blog tour, I’m going to share with you a selection of my favorite humor writers. See you then!


Thanks for this Leila! I'm no good at humor writing so I've been learning a lot. Be sure to follow the rest of Leila's T2T tour to find out more about her, her book, and her writing tips!

Review (T2T): Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales

Tags: YA, boarding school, humor, friendship


Violet Tunis and her best friend Katie attend a prestigious all-girls’ private high school in Massachusetts. To deal with the pressure to succeed as well as the eccentricities of their classmates, Violet and Katie love to do projects with one another, planning baking parties gone wrong and “dates” with Scott Walsh, the boy they both love.

Junior year, however, their friendship is changing. Katie, whom Violet has always envied for the ease with which she succeeds, has been pulling away from their old lifestyle. The hypocrisy of their cutthroat school becomes more and more unbearable. Will Violet be forced to give up who she is in order to succeed? Will her friendship with Katie weather the changes?


Humor and heart shine equally bright in Leila Sales’ brilliant debut novel, MOSTLY GOOD GIRLS. Female readers of all ages will laugh and cry as they relate to Violet’s difficulties and chuckle over her mishaps.

It is a sad indication of our times that we are able to relate so well to Violet’s situation. Westfield School is extremely competitive, and Leila Sales beautifully captures the utter ridiculousness of upper-middle-class prep school culture: the democracy that results in no decision being made for the most mundane issues, a lack of perspective, etc.

But what makes MOSTLY GOOD GIRLS so enjoyable is not a focus on its setting: it’s because the two main characters are so real, likable in their flaws. It’s easy to see from just her first-person narration that Violet is intelligent. However, she is also very much her age, and thus lacks a certain degree of perspective that makes her escapades so funny. Whether it’s attempting to gain experience talking to guys, to her confusion over Katie’s seemingly changed personality, Violet tries to solve her problems with typical adolescent gusto. She’s far from being perfect, but we love her all the more because of that.

MOSTLY GOOD GIRLS deals well with the sensitive issue of changing friendships during adolescence, but in a humorous way that is sorely lacking in YA lit. I think if I were closer to Violet’s age I would’ve loved this book to pieces: as it is, sometimes her drama grated on my nerves. But as it is, this is teen chick lit as its smartest and most incisive. It will make you laugh so hard your stomach will hurt, and yet it also brings to light the troubling pressures that high-achieving teenagers are facing these days. I’m looking forward to more from this talented new author!

Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 3/5

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Cover discussion: 3 out of 5 - One might consider it almost too generic, but I kind of like how it doesn't belittle the book's content, and adds a bit of sass and flair to the novel.

Simon Pulse / Oct. 5, 2010 / Hardcover / 347pp. / $16.99

ARC picked up at BEA, reviewed as part of a Traveling to Teens tour.

Stay tuned for a special guest post from the author!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cover Lust (21)

Check out these covers that have recently been unveiled and have been head over heels in awe of their beauty!

Between the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore
(Bloomsbury / June 7, 2011)

Holy gorgeous. The blues, and the way it perfectly portrays this as a mermaid tale... need I say more?

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce
(Little, Brown / June 7, 2011)

Whoever has been designing the covers for Jackson's recent books is an artistic genius, really. This one, a modernization of Hansel and Gretel, is yet another cool visual illusion, in which the tree branches double as a really creepy face. I wouldn't want this staring down at me from my bedroom walls, but I wouldn't mind having, like, a postcard-size picture of this image.

Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer
(Philomel / July 12, 2011)

I am conditioned to like all things green, and the green on this sequel to Nightshade is just so lush. I like how the model retains much of the same look as she did on Nightshade's cover (i.e. the purple and pale makeup), and how it looks like it would clash with all the green but in fact they just help each other stand out. Wow.

Nightspell by Leah Cypess
(Greenwillow Books / May 31, 2011)

It looks soooo similar in layout to Mistwood's cover, but I think I like this one a lot more! The intensity of the sunset sky over the waters, the illuminated castle... the richness of the colors really gets me. Not sure how I feel about the flatness of that face, but I'm sold. Plus, it's by Leah Cypess. I loved her first novel. Can't wait for this one.

A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young
(Balzer + Bray / June 21, 2011)

I know this is not the sort of cover I would typically drool over. It's just...a face. That tells us nothing much about the story. How unfortunate. But it's incredible how the yellow-gold color scheme transforms this cover for me. Never have I felt so much pure warmth emanate from a cover.

The Demon's Surrender by Sarah Rees Brennan
(Margaret K. McElderry / May 2011)

Not my usual type of drool-worthy cover, either, but can we just point out the fact that it's ALAN on the cover? More specifically: a guy with glasses?? Guys with glasses don't get enough love in YA lit, in my opinion. I love them. Loooove them. And SO glad that one is pictured on this cover.

Abandon by Meg Cabot
(Scholastic / April 26, 2011)

I would already like this cover because of the swirly designs, but check out the full jacket spread (you should probably click on it to enlarge it):

Wow. Isn't that gorgeous?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

November Giveaway!

Man I wanted to start this months ago... but basically, I'm hoping to have a monthly giveaway on my blog for special things like signed books, popular ARCs, and so on. No special reason, I just really like sharing the book love. So for November, one winner will receive the following:


Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler (signed ARC, old cover)
Virals by Kathy Reichs (ARC)
Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers (ARC)

...and swag, of course, some of which may be signed. :)

So do you want these? Of course you do. To enter, please fill out the form below, answering the question relevantly. No extra entries will be given, but I would appreciate it if you would spread the word! This giveaway is open internationally, and ends Wednesday, November 24, 2010. Thanks and good luck!

In My Mailbox (50)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme inspired by Alea and hosted by Kristi. Check out Kristi's post to see what others got in books this week!

I am incandescently happy.


For review:
I Will Save You by Matt de la Pena - I've heard fantastic things about this author, and so I'm looking forward to reading this. Thanks, Random House!
Bumped by Megan McCafferty - This utterly made my week when it showed up in my mailbox. Megan is one of my favorite authors (and you all know how I pimp the Jessica Darling books anywhere and any chance I get), and I have been waiting for this book since the deal was announced way back when. Thank you SO much, Megan!
The Transformation of Things by Jillian Cantor - From LibraryThing's Early Reviewer Program! I really enjoyed Jillian's YA novels and I'm sure I'll find the same good qualities in her first adult novel.

From Around the World Tours:
Wither by Lauren DeStefano - Okay, you guys. So, this book? It is INCREDIBLE. Definitely worth your wait and your money. I highly encourage you to preorder it NOW if you haven't yet already...and, knowing me and how selective I am in books I rave about, that's saying something.
Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann - I'm in the middle of reading this right now. Lisa McMann fans will not be disappointed. It's so creepy!


In Dreams Begin by Skyler White
Love and Other Four-Letter Words by Carolyn Mackler
The Wager by Donna Jo Napoli

I've also been plowing through the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels that I've borrowed from my library, lol. Hooray for books! Hope you guys had a good week as well!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Review: The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Tags: YA, grief, death, sisters, love triangle, music


Lennie’s life is shattered when her older sister Bailey dies suddenly. Now faced with the scary realization that she doesn’t know who she is without Bailey, Lennie also finds herself torn between two very different guys. Toby is Bailey’s boyfriend, with whom Lennie feels a powerful connection of sadness and loss. Joe is the new boy at school, a genius musician whose megawatt smile makes Lennie feel like she can be someone she never was. Can Lennie reconcile the past with the present, her sister with herself, the girl she was with the girl she can be?


To an extent, I can understand why THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE is one of the most highly praised books of 2010. The poetry and the way it makes the characters seem to ache with loveliness….It’s easy to be hypnotized by what the book presents. But I seem to be one of just a handful for whom this book did not work.

Good things first. Nelson’s writing really is a work of art. She effortlessly twists words, emotions, and descriptions that are so common in YA lit they’re practically cliché into ribbons of beauty that you just want to remember forever. After all, how many books about teenage girls grieving after a loved one’s death have been written in the past year alone? And then how many have been written by a poet?

However, there was just something about Lennie that had me not connecting with her. I really had to wonder, most of the time that I was reading this, what about her was attractive to not just one, but two guys. Toby and Joe are reasonably well-rounded characters: Joe is a genuinely swoon-worthy musician character, while Toby’s angstiness is slightly harder to swallow. But either the love triangle aspect of this book felt contrived to make Lennie more desirable, or else Bailey’s death feels like a merely convenient premise to work Lennie’s romantic troubles.

For me, THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE is yet another victim of the assumption that a sympathy-inducing issue can turn a book into a five-star classic. The writing is beautiful, and even the examination of the characters’ different ways of dealing with grief was good. I just didn’t feel a connection to Lennie, and thus, to the rest of the book.

Similar Authors
Kristina McBride
Kirstin Cronn-Mills

Writing: 4/5
Characters: 3/5
Plot: 3/5

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Cover discussion: 3 out of 5 - It's subjectively pretty, I think. It's a bit too abstract, too amorphous, for my liking. But many people seem to find nothing wrong with that!

Penguin / March 9, 2010 / Hardcover / 275pp. / $17.99

Copy bought.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Guest Post + Giveaway: Wayne Josephson!

Wayne Josephson has the intriguing idea of rewriting some classic works of fiction for a younger and more modern audience. So far he has adapted The Scarlet Letter, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, and The Odyssey, with more to come in the near future. Today he is here to explain the beginnings of his Readable Classics project. Welcome, Wayne, to Steph Su Reads!

Readable Classics – Helping Teens Appreciate Great Literature

When I was in high school, I was assigned Moby Dick and The Scarlet Letter in English. I glazed over them, slammed the books in frustration, read CliffNotes instead, and got C’s on the exams.

Last year, history repeated itself when my 10th grade son was assigned The Scarlet Letter. He moaned and groaned and went online to SparkNotes. It was time to break the cycle.

Since I was now a published author, I decided to gently edit The Scarlet Letter to flow more smoothly and make it less frustrating. It still felt like the original because, essentially, it still was the original, retaining Nathaniel Hawthorne’s voice—I just made it more readable.

My son read my version alongside the original, chapter by chapter, and was able to understand and appreciate it. He got an A on the exam.

But something happened to me. I realized that I absolutely loved The Scarlet Letter. It was stunning, powerful, and beautiful. I finally realized why it has been continuously published for 150 years—the book is important. Hester Prynne was the very first female hero in American literature. Prior to that, they had all been men. That is unimaginable today.

I noticed that Nathaniel Hawthorne had dedicated his book to Herman Melville. I did some research and learned that they were best friends. Likewise, Melville dedicated Moby Dick to Hawthorne.

I decided to take the plunge and tackle my nemesis, the White Whale. As I gently edited Moby Dick, plowing through the murky, arcane language, I discovered that it was much more than a whale tale—it was an amazing, often humorous, satire about life, death, and religion.

I knew I had to share my excitement with others, so I published these two books.

Readable Classics was born.

The reviews on Amazon are glowing—even the literary purists like them. And students are ecstatic.

I gently edited Pride and Prejudice, the first novel to challenge the ridiculous notion that women were second-class citizens. As a result, I fell in love with Jane Austen. I recently published a mashup, Emma and the Vampires, with the intent of introducing Jane Austen to young adult readers in a friendly way, laced with Twilight-type vampires.

Then I edited Jane Eyre. It is the best book I have ever read, hands down. It was the first English novel in which a woman was the hero. Women couldn’t publish books in 1847, so Charlotte Bronte mailed one chapter a week to the London Sunday paper under a man’s pseudonym, Currer Bell. It was an instant sensation.

Jane Eyre is the spellbinding journey of a poor orphan girl who overcomes cruelty, loneliness, starvation, and heartbreak on her quest to find independence as a woman. It is the story of every woman who struggles for equality and dignity in a society that wants to deny her those rights—as true in Victorian England as it is today. It is one of the most important books ever written, and compulsively readable. You simply cannot put it down.

I have just published The Odyssey—the first novel ever written, 2800 years ago, a timeless story of intrigue and adventure. And I am currently working on The Red Badge of Courage—the first novel to portray war as ugly and violent and real, not dreamy and idealistic.

So many firsts—the classics have become classics because they are, in many ways, the first of their kind. They have opened up a whole new world to me, and I am grateful that I am finally able to understand and appreciate these great works of literature.

My work is challenging, enjoyable and satisfying. But the best part about writing Readable Classics? Students and adults have told me that my books have helped them overcome their fear of the classics. And that is the most rewarding part of all.


Well, I certainly admire this daunting task you have taken on, Wayne! I'm glad to hear that more people have been appreciating the classics thanks to Readable Classics. Thank you for this guest post! Check out Wayne's author website for more information on his books.

Giveaway Opportunity

Wayne has kindly allowed me to host a giveaway! One lucky winner will get to choose from one of the five currently published Readable Classics. To enter, please fill out the form below. This giveaway is limited to US mailing addresses only and ends Friday, November 19, 2010. Good luck!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Cover Lust (20)

Huntress by Malinda Lo
(Little, Brown / April 5, 2011)

I featured this for my Waiting on Wednesday post two week ago, but I just have to mention it again, because I love it so much. Can we all just take a moment here to appreciate how beautiful and tough this thoroughly Asian girl on the cover looks? I like how the title font is in keeping with the title font of Ash. I hope they make posters of this cover, and I hope I'm somehow able to find one.

Powder Necklace by Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond
(Atria Books / Feb. 6, 2010)

More POCs on a book cover. This makes me so happy. I like how the flower and the gentle pink block of color in the text area subtly complements the picture.

Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott
(July 2011)

Yeah, in case you haven't noticed, there might be a slight theme for this Cover Lust post. Basically, yes, this is another strong and beautiful Asian girl on a YA cover, which is so appropriate since this book is kind of like a Cinderella set in Feudal Japan.

Mercy by Rebecca Lim
(HarperCollins / Oct. 28, 2010)

It's simple, but elegant, in my opinion. There's just the right amount of detail to the title font to match intricacy of the girl's feathery dress. Works for me!

Clean by Amy Reed
(Simon Pulse / July 2011)

I like how it complements the cover to Amy's first book, the shocking and powerful Beautiful. I love the "empty space" effect going on, how the girl looks like she's sitting in a fake world.

Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott
(Simon Pulse / May 24, 2011)

You know me. I can't ever pass up taking note of a book with a high-quality photo cover, with the DSLR foreground focus and background blurriness, yadda yadda photogeek speak. So while this may not sing particularly to you, I just finds that it evokes this feeling of...gentleness. Contentedness. Prettyyy.


What do you guys think?! Which is your favorite??


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