Monday, September 28, 2009

Word Nerd Award: and now I pass along the crown

Monday, the amazing TereLiz awarded me the Word Nerd Blog Badge. Thank you, Tere, for making me smile and for brightening my day. :)

I've spent the week basking in my glory, but now it's time to pass along the love. It was a tough decision, but the bloggers I've chosen as the next Word Nerds are two girls that always make me laugh or smile. Not only are they funny, they're also candid, both about others and themselves. Almost every day, they spill their hearts onto a platter and serve it up to the world.

Have I dragged out the suspense long enough? For everything that you do (for me and for anyone else lucky enough to stumble upon your blog, with whatever crazy Google search of the week), I award the Word Nerd Blog Badge to ...

Lisa and Laura (a.k.a. LiLa) at Lisa and Laura Write!

Thank you for your celebrity poems, your teasers and WIPpets, your truthful Tuesdays, your industry insights, and, of course, your D-Bag-O-Meter. On the days when I'm too swamped to read everyone's blog posts like I want, I always take 5 minutes to see what's going on in your corner of the world. And, if ever I start to forget, you remind me why I read YA, why I write it, and why I love others who do the same.

Keep rocking on, LiLa, and we'll all keep buying front row tickets. I'd tell you not to forget the little people when you hit it big, but I already know you won't. That's just the kind of girls you are. :)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

My very first interview!

Lauren, over at Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf, very graciously interviewed me for her blog, and today, it's posted! If you've got a few, please check it out. If you've got less than a few, please check it out, anyway! :)

Lauren: If you're reading this, thank you. You just made my Thursday a heck of a lot better.

Book Giveaway--Luna by Julie Ann Peters

SYNOPSIS (pulled from Amazon):

"Yeah, I loved her. I couldn't help it. She was my brother." Regan has always been there for her transgender brother, Liam, sacrificing her needs for his, but when he announces that he is ready to "transition" into Luna permanently, Regan is not sure she can handle the consequences. She has been his confidant all her life, letting Luna dress in her room, buying underwear for her when Liam couldn't, and giving support. However, when the attractive new guy in chemistry class shows an interest in Regan, she wishes her sibling would just go away and give her a chance to live her own life. Liam realizes that in order for his sister to be free, he, too, must free himself to become the woman who lives inside him. Told from Regan's point of view in the present and in flashback, this novel breaks new ground in YA literature with a sensitive and poignant portrayal of a young man's determination to live his true identity and his family's struggle to accept Luna for who she really is.

I think the synopsis says it all. This novel is groundbreaking, sensitive, and poignant. It opened my eyes to another world. I empathized both with Regan, the MC, and with Luna, her transgender sibling. I felt Regan's compassion, her embarrassment, and her guilt, because I experienced all of these emotions while reading her story. Julie Anne Peters brings such amazing authenticity to Luna that I would've sworn she had a transgender sibling herself, if her website didn't tell me otherwise. I'm sure there were some flaws with the writing and/or the storytelling, but it's been a few months since I read this, so it's difficult to recall. One interesting element is that the flashbacks are told in present tense; this is at first jarring, but there is something to be said for being original. I would definitely recommend this to others. Read it, then pass it along. It's time to spread the word, which is the only reason I'm parting with my copy! :)

+1 Leave a comment on this post. If you don't have a blogger profile, leave an email address, too, or I won't be able to contact you.

+4 if you already follow/subscribe to my blog
+2 for becoming a follower/subscriber to my blog

+2 for posting a link to this contest somewhere on the Internet (sidebar, Myspace, Twitter, etc.)--be sure to leave me a link here if you post one.
+4 for posting an actual blog about this giveaway--leave me the link.

+1 for letting me know who referred you.
+1 for every person who says you referred them here.

+3 for telling me about a book that changed your life and why.

Open To: US and Canada residents only.

Ends: Thursday, October 8, at midnight, central time.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Review: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch came along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure who to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen - and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her her life.

The Good: I went into this expecting a lot, and Becca didn't disappoint. The tension was there, the humor, the intrigue, the overall creepiness. Vee was great comic relief, without being a cliche. Nora (unlike a certain female heroine of a recent pop culture sensation) was likable. And Patch ... my GOD he was hot! So self-confident and self-assured that you just knew he wasn't human. An added bonus: for a first time novel, it was very well-written.

The Less Good: Okay, now I know I said Patch was hot, and I meant it. But he was also scary, so obviously so that I wanted to hit Nora upside the head on many occasions. I wish Nora was a little more developed--her likes and dislikes, her hobbies, etc.--and the "coincidental" meetings b/w Nora and Patch were a little overdone. A part of me also wishes I didn't know Patch's big secret going into the story, b/c it would've been fun to discover everything with Nora.

The "Ugly": I didn't think angels would be my thing--fallen or otherwise--but I can't wait for the sequel. In my very humble opinion, the synopsis doesn't do the story justice. This is not a ripoff of Twilight, nor is it derivative of any other paranormal story I've read. If you haven't preordered this one yet, you must. I know I am. :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Review: Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

The Good: Bold, brave, gutsy, and groundbreaking, Hate List had a little bit of everything we all strive for in our own writing. I found Natalie to be sympathetic and relatable. I wanted her to have a happy ending, to find her way out of the pain and the guilt. The story was heavy, and yeah, so there were tears. Lots of them toward the end. And they were all well-earned.

The Less Good: Some of the secondary characters are a little one-dimensional. There was a bit too much "I" sentence repetition in parts, sometimes 6-8 sentences in a row beginning with "I." The timeline could be hard to follow, with flashbacks within flashbacks at times, and for about 50 pages, the book stopped forward momentum and went back in time--to just after the shooting. All of this information was important and added to the story, but I found myself thinking, "I want to know how she's doing NOW!" But when it picked back up again, it didn't stop.

The "Ugly": Definitely check this one out. Despite its flaws (which StephSu does a great job of pointing out on her blog), I really enjoyed Hate List, so much so that I stayed up until 2 a.m. to finish it. So much so that I wish I had had the kiwis to write it myself.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Do you skip to the good parts?

So you're writing. Maybe it's a newbie, fresh out of your warped, writerly brain. Or maybe you and your WIP have been involved for some time.

Regardless, you have The Scene in your head. The one that you know is going to be amazing once you get to it, but you're just not there yet. Or maybe it's not The Scene, but, rather, a dozen or so scattered scenes that don't cohesively fit one after the other and won't make sense without 5 chapters of preparation.

Do you (a) keep writing, piece by piece, step by step, until you reach The Scene(s), or do you (b) skip the appetizer and plunge into the main course/favorite side dish/yummy dessert?

Lately, I've tried (a). I thought, "Jess, you need to stop being so impatient. Write through the grit so the fun part is more rewarding." But this process has been frustrating. I end up sighing and staring off in space and thinking even more about The Scene(s) and, before I know it, I'm playing online Scrabble.

So next week, I'm resolving to try the whimsical approach. Write what I want, when I want it, and put the puzzle pieces together later.

What about you? Do you think I'm crazy? What do you think works best?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

In my USPS box

I'm not usually an "In My Mailbox" kind of girl, b/c, to my dismay, I just don't get cool stuff in my mailbox. And you all know you can't sit at the cool kid table without bringing the goods.

Yesterday, after 2 weeks (!!) of (im)patient waiting for the California FedEx guys to get my order to the Florida USPS guys, my Borders books have finally arrived! And here are the goods:

Hate List by Jennifer Brown (Eek! So excited to crack this one open.)

Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

Psych Major Syndrome by Alicia Thompson
Using the skills you've learned so far in Introduction to Psychology, please write a brief self-assessment describing how things are going in your freshman year. Presenting Concerns: The Patient, Leigh Nolan (that would be me), has just started her first year at Stiles College. She has decided to major in psychology (even though her parents would rather she study Tarot cards, not Rorschach blots).
Patient has always been very good at helping her friends with their problems, but when it comes to solving her own...not so much.

Patient has a tendency to overanalyze things, particularly when the opposite sex is involved. Like why doesn't Andrew, her boyfriend of over a year, ever invite her to spend the night? Or why can't she commit to taking the next step in their relationship? And why does his roommate Nathan dislike her so much? More importantly, why did Nathan have a starring role in a much-more-than-friendly dream?

Aggravating factors include hyper-competitive fellow psych majors, a professor who's badly in need of her own psychoanalysis, and mentoring a middle-school-aged girl who thinks Patient is, in a word, naive. Diagnosis: Psych Major Syndrome

The Hollow by Jessica Verday

When Abbey's best friend, Kristen, vanishes at the bridge near Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, everyone else is all too quick to accept that Kristen is dead?and rumors fly that her death was no accident. Abbey goes through the motions of mourning her best friend, but privately, she refuses to believe that Kristen is really gone. Then she meets Caspian, the gorgeous and mysterious boy who shows up out of nowhere at Kristen's funeral, and keeps reappearing in Abbey's life. Caspian clearly has secrets of his own, but he's the only person who makes Abbey feel normal again...but also special.
Just when Abbey starts to feel that she might survive all this, she learns a secret that makes her question everything she thought she knew about her best friend. How could Kristen have kept silent about so much? And could this secret have led to her death? As Abbey struggles to understand Kristen's betrayal, she uncovers a frightening truth that nearly unravels her—one that will challenge her emerging love for Caspian, as well as her own sanity.

After by Amy Efaw

An infant left in the trash to die. A teenage mother who never knew she was pregnant . . .
Before That Morning, these were the words most often used to describe straight-A student and star soccer player Devon Davenport: responsible, hardworking, mature. But all that changes when the police find Devon home sick from school as they investigate the case of an abandoned baby. Soon the connection is made—Devon has just given birth; the baby in the trash is hers. After That Morning, there’s only one way to define Devon: attempted murderer.

And yet gifted author Amy Efaw does the impossible— she turns Devon into an empathetic character, a girl who was in such deep denial that she refused to believe she was pregnant. Through airtight writing and fast-paced, gripping storytelling, Ms. Efaw takes the reader on Devon’s unforgettable journey toward clarity, acceptance, and redemption.

Crash into Me by Albert Borris

Four troubled teens embark on a cross-country trek to visit the gravesites of celebrity suicides. Along the way, they bond over their own dark impulses prior to their planned demise in Death Valley. A darkly funny novel, the story combines the intensity of human desperation with the unpredictability of teens on the open road.

"Crash Into Me puts readers in the driver's seat with four teens teetering on the edge of suicide. But will their cross country odyssey push them all the way over? Only the final page turn will tell, in Albert Borris's finely-crafted tale of friendship forged from a desperate need of connection. An exceptional first novel."--Ellen Hopkins, bestselling author of Crank

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf--her wolf--is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human--or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

Go ahead. Tell me my FedEx box doesn't ROCK. To make it even better, I got Hush, Hush in last week, and I have 2 Sarah Dessen library books (Lock and Key and Dreamland) sitting on my coffee table. I need to take a reading sick day!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pssshtt ... Who says I have responsibilities?

Mary E. Pearson, author of The Adoration of Jenna Fox and, most recently, The Miles Between, has posted an amazing article entitled "What YA Lit Is and Isn't" over here. She talks about who writes YA, who should read it, and the general suspicion some people still have about the entire genre.

One of my favorite parts is where she discusses the responsibility YA writers have. Her conclusion? We don't. Here's a little bit of what she had to say:

Recently I’ve heard some discussion about the “responsibility” of YA books and YA authors. Oh, I hate that word when it comes to books ... YA books are not meant to raise children. They are everything any adult book is. They are entertainment. They are a place to see ourselves. They are a place to get lost for a few hours. They are a place to make us think and wonder and imagine. They are a place to evoke anger, disagreement, discussion, and maybe tears. Books have no other responsibility than not to make the reader hate reading.

Can I get an Amen? Seriously, the entire article is quite amazing, and if you write YA, you should check it out. I found myself nodding along and saying, "Right on!" more than once.

Now, perhaps I should finally get around to buying The Adoration of Jenna Fox. I've been meaning to for months now and just ... haven't. Too many books, so little time! Has anyone out there read it, or anything else by Pearson? If you haven't, def check out her article, at the very least!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Uglies/Pretties/Wintergirls giveaway--And the winners are ...



Winner #1 (your choice of Uglies + Pretties or Wintergirls) is ... Jenny N!

Winner # 2 (whatever Jenny doesn't pick) is ... Yessenia!

Please contact me by Thursday at noon'ish. Congratulations to the winners!

Friday, September 11, 2009

2 things

1. Don't forget to enter my Uglies/Pretties/Wintergirls giveaway --- it ends in about 2'ish hours!

2. I should blog. I really should. I should say something witty or funny or sad or serious or even just plain stupid. After all, it's been a week since I've opened up a new post. A week! Unacceptable in blogland! But ... I can't. Because I got something in the mail this week. Something that I'm only 2 1/2 chapters into and already addicted. And that little something is an ARC that I won of Hush, Hush, by the lovely Becca.

All I can say is, "EEEEK!!"

Off to get high on Patch. See you all again when the withdrawal symptons kick in. :)

(... Okay, okay, I promise to take a breather to post the winners for my giveaway. But other than that, I'm going to be pretty useless until I hit that final page. )

Friday, September 4, 2009

And for the end, I go out with a BANG (or, a writing recipe for everyone's palette)

Don't get your hopes up: I'm not actually going anywhere. But my SCBWI notes are. As in, I've reached the in. This is the last one, and then I'm going all Disney and sticking them in the vault (i.e., the blog archive). I think this is a goodie, so I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did!

SARAH DAVIES—A Recipe for Writing the Breakout Novel: 5 Ingredients for Success

Agent at Greenhouse Literary Agency
-Specializes in children’s/teens literature. Greatest specialty is MG/tween/YA (submission guidelines are on the website)

-She is a lover of language—language has shaped her life.
-She considers her work to be her vocation and can’t think of anything she’d rather do than help others achieve success.

How do turn a dull story into a gripping one =
-explore characters
-strengthen your premise
-work on your plot

The breakout novel = the one that keeps people up reading at night and enables you to go on writing as a career.

Publishers make 90% of their revenue on 10% of their books. This 10% is greatly depended on and helps pay for everything else; it gives the house its name.

In the book world, an agent must feel passion about your project.
-There is always room (on her list) for something that is wonderful and ignites her heart. There is “always time for a shiny nugget.”
-She’s looking for a voice that shines out of her, even if the plot is rough. But, take a lot of care with your work before sending it out (i.e., only send it out when you feel it is as good as you can make it).


1) Your work must be unique; you must have an inspired concept
-Know the market, but write only what you can write.
-If there’s a story you want to read that hasn’t been written, write it.
-Domestic/paranormal = about 80% of what she sees. You need a really fresh twist to make yours stand out.
-USP = "unique selling point" of your story; the strong, fresh idea with real commercial appeal
-**Your concept should be developed before you start writing. Don't write until you have a really clever pitch (clever pitch = only a couple of sentences) that you can articulate efficiently.
-Think big. Be prepared to research. Sometimes a concept can go a very long way to selling a story in the marketplace.
-->Example of a high concept idea = Princess for Hire by Lindsey Leavitt
-BUT ... concept alone isn’t enough. You also need great writing.
-->E.g., Jay Asher's 13 Reasons Why is more than a sad story; it’s like a thriller with the tension increased due to the short passage of time.

2) Principal characters must be vivid and true and must leap off the page.
-**Know your principal characters and their back story so well that they reveal themselves as you go along. You shouldn’t have to stop to do this as you write.
-Q: What were the journeys your characters took to get them here?
-Developing your principal characters before you write helps to show, not tell. It avoids info dumps about characters in the main character’s world.
-"Let your characters develop themselves in whispers." -- e.g., Valerie Patterson – Another State of Blue
-The sole purpose of description is to reveal character. -- e.g., What do your character’s torn jeans, or the way they push back their hair, tell you about them?
-Character is revealed by conflict and dynamic, all of which have to move us toward a revelation at the end of the story.

-Dialogue can’t be flat.
-People don’t use long, carefully crafted sentences when they talk.
-90% of people’s sentences are self-interested.
-What is unsaid is at least as important as what is actually said.
-**The external of conversation needs to reflect the internal agenda of your characters.

3) Tell a high stakes story
-High stakes = where the characters have a lot to win or lose; a story with a twist in the tail.
-Q: What do your characters stand to win/lose? Work these wins/losses so that they escalate, building tension toward the end.
--> E.g., Valerie Patterson’s Another State of Blue
--> E.g., Tender Morsels—explores the evil and sweetness of the world; the cost of living in a world where evil doesn’t exist, and why we need both, despite how hard it might be.
-*High stakes are vital for one to be passionate about your story.

-Know where you’re going, especially how you’ll reach the climax/ending.
-A good outline prevents you from stalling or getting really confused.

4) Your story needs a deeply-felt theme
-Q: What is the unique moral/spiritual message of your story? This should be something that stays with the reader after the book is finished and gives newly perceived truth of what it means to be human; something integral to the concept.
-*Do not attempt to teach.
-Think: What is your message and how are you going to get it across?
-->E.g., 13 Reasons Why—the deeply-felt theme is the effect we have on others’ lives, but we can grow through this and realize, at times, there are some things we can’t do.
-->E.g., Princess for Hire—the MC is not vapor; she can be herself, and she has enormous value.

-The best books teach us more about ourselves than about our characters.

5) Include a vivid setting
-A vivid setting = one imbued with emotion in which geography and sense of place in your story almost become character themselves.
-->E.g., the city of London in The Devil’s Kiss

6) Find your voice
-Are you a musician? If not, become one.
-Are you aware of language? Train your inner ear and develop a musicality about language.
-Language has a cadence. Develop a cadence with words. Speak it aloud.
-The beauty of your voice needs to be “silvery and luminous” to convince an editor, “I must have this.”

-Writing is a craft, like cooking, playing the violin, and painting in oils. It takes a long time to master this craft, like any other.
-There is more reward in fighting through the pain of revision than in giving up and starting something else.
-Writing is 50% perspiration and 50% inspiration.
-“There is no way of writing well and also of writing easily.”

-Story is created by revelation of the internal and the external.

Example of a story that does it all right = Slumdog Millionaire (the movie; she hasn't read the book)
-extraordinary concept
-unforgettable characters
-unbelievably high stakes
-a deeply-felt theme (i.e., love overcoming survival)
-vivid, authentic setting


So that's that! Truth be told, the sessions I enjoyed the most and found the most inspiring were those led by the authors. But Sarah Davies was ah-ma-ZING. I'm not sure if all translates to paper, but if you ever get the chance to see her, do it.

I hope these notes have been as helpful to everyone else as they have been to me.

*off to think of something interesting to say now that I'm out of wise words from others* :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

More SCBWI: Tools for fast-paced plotting

CHRIS EBOCH—What I Learned from Nancy Drew: Tools for Fast-Paced Plotting

Note: Chris gave us a handout for "growing an idea into a story," which addressed incomplete ideas. The focus of the below notes is where the writer already has a beginning, middle, and an end, but wants to make the plot move well. That said, I don't have a fully fleshed out middle or a definitive end, but I found this session very helpful. Hopefully you will, too!

- Nancy Drew books are ghostwritten (like the Hardy Boys) by 4-5 writers, including Chris Eboch.

1) Start fast, with a funny, provocative, ominous, or shocking first line.

2) Accompany this first line, early on, with something that’s happening. You need to get an editor’s attention within at least 5 pages.
--Get into the action quickly, but also give readers a chance to catch up with what the action is and who the characters are. If readers don't have some idea who your characters are, they'll care less about all the action.
--Give an intro to the setting and the characters, but start in the scene where something is happening.
--Put research/history tidbits second and focus on plot first. This may mean you have to lose some historical facts that you love, if they slow down your plot.

3) Look for places where you can add more danger, excitement, and tension. Make things more difficult for your characters.
--Rule of 3 = the MC should try and fail twice before achieving the goal.
--You can have interim goals within the story, with steps to be accomplished, before the characters reach the main goal(s). But, make sure that these interim goals add to the story or make it better and aren't just included for the sake of conflict.
--Ways to expand and add complications to the pot = keep your characters in places where danger could happen.
--Q: Are you using your villain as actively as you can? Make sure he/she is actively plotting against your MC, not just waiting for the hero to do something and then reacting. Villains create their own problems, which adds to your story. This works with secondary characters, too, when they want something different than what your MC wants. (e.g., parents/teachers doing things in a way that causes trouble, even if well-meaning.)
--If you don’t have enough going on, consider adding a second "villain" or more effectively using the "villain" you already have.
--You want peaks in your story, but continue to raise tension so the highest point of tension is at the climax (i.e., save the most dramatic scene for last).

4) Use cliffhanger chapter endings.
--Cliffhangers keep people reading.
--If your chapter is dragging, look for a smaller moment mid-chapter to beef up and make stronger, and turn this into a chapter ending.
--**Don’t just get the action on and over with. You need a slow build-up to the intense action. Slow down the detail so there is a closer focus (longer and more detail), building up tension of something about to happen.
--Focus on the MC’s thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations when working up to cliffhanger endings to chapters.
--Make the reader what to turn the page to see what happens next.
--Make the reader ask: “What’s next? What is it?”
--You can end a chapter mid-scene if it’s at your most dramatic moment. However, it’s okay to have a quieter chapter moment. Including quieter chapters occasionally helps not to frustrate your reader when he/she is looking for a stopping place.
--If you’re using a quiet ending, make sure it shows more is to come (e.g., something ominous is around the next page).
--Don’t cheat. Cliffhangers should fit naturally into the plot. They shouldn’t be there just for the sake of suspense.
--Choose a dramatic moment in the plot--e.g., “We have everything under control/nothing could go wrong”--to end the chapter. This gives the reader a sense of foreboding and lets them know something bad will likely happen (at least with older YA readers; MG readers may take you more literally and think everything is, in fact, under control).

5) Shorter paragraphs/sentences = faster, more intense.
--Try using shorter paragraphs/sentences at the end of chapters to create more intensity.
--i.e., your character doesn’t have time to speak in long/conjunction sentences when something is falling at his/her head. The sentences will be shorter, sharper, more to the point.

We have almost reached the end of SCBWI, but I have at least one more really awesome post for you all. So don't jump ship just yet! :D

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Book giveaway: Uglies+Pretties or Wintergirls -- winner picks!

It's giveaway time again! The votes are in, and it was pretty close between two of the options. My solution? 2 winners!

Winner #1 gets his/her choice of (1) Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, or (2) Uglies and Pretties by Scott Westerfield. Winner #2 gets the "leftovers." (If you can call anything written by LHA or SW "leftovers" with a straight face!)

Now, for a quick Q&A:
Q: "But Jess," you say. "I want to read Uglies, but I totally already have Wintergirls. What happens if I get second choice, and that first place winner bitch takes Uglies? Can I beat him/her over the head with my Wintergirls?"
A: Violence, while amusing (and a video will certainly be requested), is not necessary. I have other books you can choose from if the dreadful above-scenario happens to you. So enter away!



Everybody gets to be supermodel gorgeous. What could be wrong with that?

Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. Not for her license -- for turning pretty. In Tally's world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.

But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to be pretty. She'd rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world -- and it isn't very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.

My (brief) review:
I didn't love Uglies, but I liked it. A lot. It was a great thrill ride, with a little bit of a love story thrown in for good measure. That said, sci-fi isn't really my thing, so the futuristic society was hard for me to get into at first. I'm also not big on third person, but there were enough interesting things happening to keep me reading. Westerfield knows how to build the suspense and keep you clinging to your seat. While it doesn't make my list of favorites-I-would-read-again-and-again, I'd still recommend it to others.

(I'm not going to post a synopsis of Pretties, because it gives away too much of what happens in Uglies. So if you win them, don't read the back of it until you finish Uglies!)

Dead girl walking, the boys say in the halls.

Tell us your secret, the girls whisper, one toilet to another.

I am that girl.

I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.

I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friends restless spirit.

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the multiple-award-winning Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia's descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.

My (brief) review:
Wintergirls is ... WOW. That's all I can say. The imagery is powerful, the language even more so. LH Anderson knows how to take you inside the mind of a teenage girl struggling with anorexia, and the scary thing is, she keeps you there. If you've never read anything by LH Anderson, this is the book you must read.

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Open To: US and Canada residents only.

Ends: Friday, September 11, at midnight, central time.