Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bookanistas: Chime by Frannie Billingsley


Oh. My. Gosh. Have y'all been following the Twitter about my trip to NYC?  I've been *relatively* copacetic since I got here, but wow. It really WAS Planes, Trains and Automobiles!  A literal train wreck, a broken plane, a pothole in a runway, a crazy guy on a light pole in Times Square, and my inability to tell down from up where block numbers are concerned has made this the CRAZIEST transportation adventure evah. 
More about that soon. First I have to tell you about this CRAZY great book I read while I was sitting in the airport forever and a day. 
CHIME
by Frannie Billingsley
The back of the book says: Briony has worn her guilt for so long it's become a second skin. She often escapes to the swamp, where she tells stories to the Old Ones, the spirits who haunt the marshes. But only witches can see the Old Ones, and in her village, witches are sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out, even as she believes she deserves the worst kind of punishment.

Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and mane of tawny hair. He's as natural as the sun, and treats her as if she's extraordinary. And everything starts to change. As many secrets as Briony has been holding, there are secrets even she doesn't know.
What I say: I loved this book. I loved the voice, and I really loved the main character, Briony. The world is historical (turn of the 20th century) but with magic, only it's a gentle, superstitious sort of magic. No wands or wizards, but folktale creatures and fairy tale witches. 
There is so much more going on here than just the romance (emphasized by the summary). There's a ton of mystery in Briony's life. She blames herself for all her family's hardships, including her sister's mental simplicity, her stepmother's death, a fire and a flood. Early on, her self-loathing and guilt was just a little hard for me, but she had just enough spark of life and humor to make me really root for her, and it was so clear that there was a lot more to this story than Briony was able to see. (She is an unreliable narrator, and Billingsley very skillfully lets you sense that from the get go.) I desperately wanted to read on to see (a) what REALLY happened and (b) to see this girl come into her own. 
It helped that Briony was so witty and clever. Her turns of phrase and creative metaphor are delightful, and her interactions with Eldric sparkle. (LOVED Eldric!)  Frankly, I just loved the way Billingsley told this story and in particular how it spun out. It was like the story Briony believed about herself was an intricate origami that had to unfold little by little as the book when on until we could see the truth. 
There's magic and a genuine sense of mystery and jeopardy, a wonderful and satisfying romance, and an utterly engaging heroine.  
I will say that this is a book for people who don't like everything explained to them up front. The world in particular is not spelled out, and you have to put the pieces together for yourself. I found this really rewarding, and I highly recommend that you at least check out the first few chapters of this book and see if it doesn't grab you, too. 
What else are the Bookanistas talking about this week? Check it out.
Elana Johnson adores A Need So Beautiful
LiLa Roecker is gaga for Are You Going to Kiss Me Now?
Christine Fonseca interviews YA Fiction for Dummies author Deborah Halverson – with giveaway
Beth Revis interviews A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie author Matt Blackstone
Carolina Valdez Miller is wowed by Wildfire – with giveaway
Shana Silver gushes over Hourglass
Jen Hayley delves into Divergent
Rosemary Clement-Moore thinks Chime is divine
Stasia Ward Kehoe has applause for Trauma Queen

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bookanistas: Jinx by Meg Cabot

Want to talk books in real time? I'm doing a live chat tonight (Thursday, June 23) at 9 pm ET/ 8 pm CT at The Knight Agency website. Click here to go directly to the chat room. Enter any combo of user name and password. 


Now, on to Jinx by Meg Cabot!

What the back cover says: 
Jean Honeychurch hates her boring name (not Jean Marie, or Jeanette, just . . . Jean). What's worse? Her all-too-appropriate nickname, Jinx. Misfortune seems to follow her everywhere she goes even to New York City, where Jinx has moved to get away from the huge mess she caused in her small hometown. Her aunt and uncle welcome her to their Manhattan town house, but her beautiful cousin Tory isn't so thrilled. . . .

In fact, Tory is hiding a dangerous secret one that could put them all in danger. Soon Jinx realizes it isn't just bad luck she's been running from . . . and that the curse she has lived under since the day she was born may be the only thing that can save her life.
What I say: 
This is a delightful book that has been on my shelf for a long time. Maybe not since it came out but... well, a while. I grabbed it to have something to read while my car was being inspected, and as often happens when I pick up a Cabot book, I spent the afternoon reading “one more page.” (I did come home from the garage first, though.) 
Cabot’s narrative voice sparkles, and her characters are effortlessly realized. Her dialog is always right on the mark. I love how the story and characters evolve through dialog, without sacrificing the zippiness.  I love The Guy in particular. He was just the right contrast to Jean, the narrator and heroine, who’s nickname is Jinx for reasons that are pretty obvious from the jump. Or are they?
Jean, of course, discovers there’s more to the story, and she has to make peace with herself and her specialness (it is, after all paranormal book) as well as solve the problem of her cousin, who has embraced her specialness a little too fervently. 
Unlike Cabot’s more recent books, like Abandon, which I talked about not long ago, this one is considerably lighter in tone and the plot is simpler as well. It suits a standalone book, and didn’t diminish my enjoyment of it. 
It’s a lighter read, like a tasty sorbet, and perfect for a lazy summer afternoon. 


What else are the Bookanista's reading this week?  Click below to find out!




Elana Johnson adores Hourglass
Beth Revis has cover love for Incarnate
Shana Silver swoons over Supernaturally
Rosemary Clement-Moore jumps for Jinx
Stasia Ward Kehoe praises Possession
Gretchen McNeil is giddy about Moonglass
Sarah Frances Hardy brags about The Grandma Book

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Live Chat on Thursday!

Hey guys! You have a chance to chat with me LiVE on Thursday evening on The Knight Agency Website. There will be PRIZES. By which I mean books!

What: Chat with Rosemary Clement-Moore, Author of TEXAS GOTHIC
When: Thursday, June 23rd @ 9:00pm ET
Where: The Knight Agency Chat Room -

http://client1.sigmachat.com/sc.php?id=115545

How to Chat: Enter any combination of username and password. Login. Your computer must be Java enabled to chat.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Planes, Trains & Automobiles 2011

I'm off again, combining business and fun, mooching couch space from friends and seeing parts of the US I haven't seen before. (And some I have.)

The highlights:

Birmingham, AL (Where I'll be speaking at the Homewood library on Saturday, July 25 at 1pm, along with other YA authors, about... well, writing YA, what else.)

Amtrak's Crescent line from Birmingham to NYC. Lot's of time to write!

NYC for the RWA National Convention. (Booksigning with a million authors on Tuesday night!)

Massachusetts, to visit with friends for the Fourth of July. I have never been to New England, and I'm so excited.

And finally flying home. That's the big straight line on the map below.

I'll be testing out Tumblr (which I have had but haven't used) to microblog about the trip. If you want to follow along with me, head on over there and bookmark or follow me. (I'll post some here, too.)

Here's a map of my trip.

View Planes, Trains and Automobiles 2011 in a larger map

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bookanistas: Bad Taste in Boys

Bad Taste in Boys
By Carrie Harris
From Delecorte Press, July 12 (The same day as Texas Gothic)
The Back Cover says: Super-smartie Kate Grable gets to play doctor, helping out her high school football team. Not only will the experience look good on her college apps, she gets to be this close to her quarterback crush, Aaron. Then something disturbing happens. Kate finds out that the coach has given the team steroids. Except . . . the vials she finds don’t exactly contain steroids. Whatever’s in them is turning hot gridiron hunks into mindless, flesh-eating . . . zombies.
Unless she finds an antidote, no one is safe. Not Aaron, not Kate’s brother, not her best friend . . . not even Kate . . .
It’s scary. It’s twisted. It’s sick. It’s high school.
What I say: I shouldn’t have even LIKED this book.  
I hate zombies. 
I find them both silly and terrifying, which is a weird combination, I know. It’s terrifying because... contagion and cannibalism. It’s silly because... the walking dead. 
So why did I love BAD TASTE IN BOYS so much? Because Carrie Harris tells a great story. 
I love the narrator, Kate, and her voice. She’s delightfully nerdy, terrifically funny, smart, resourceful, and altogether likable.
Harris makes the zombie thing work. And when I say this book is really funny, I don’t mean to say it’s silly. I think the reason both the premise and the humor work so well is that it strikes the right balance of taking the zombie thing seriously without taking itself too seriously.
The story and the storytelling drew me in so well that I stayed on the treadmill for a whole extra mile, because I didn’t want to stop reading. My thighs were NOT happy this morning. 
But I was, because this was a terrific read. Fast, fun and frightening. If you like Prom Dates from Hell, you’ll probably really enjoy BAD TASTE IN BOYS.
And while you're waiting anxiously for July 12th, check out what the other Bookanistas are talking about this week:
Beth Revis interviews Hourglass author Myra McEntire – with giveaway
Shannon Messenger croons over Uncommon Criminals – with giveaway
Myra McEntire invites Possession author Elana Johnson into the Fort
Shana Silver gushes about Bloodlines – with arc giveaway
Jen Hayley is mesmerized by Imaginary Girls
Stasia Ward Kehoe is stunned by Girl, Stolen

Sunday, June 12, 2011

DFW Teen Writers

If you are a teen (13-17 years old) in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and you love to write and want to find out more about writing and publishing AND make your writing more better, here's some information for you.

WHAT:
SUMMER TEEN WRITING WORKSHOP (presented by the DFW Writer's Workshop)
WHEN: Saturdays from 1-3pm, starting June 18 and going through July 30 (no meeting on July 2)
WHERE: The Simmons Center, 508 Simmons St., Euless, TX
HOW MUCH: FREE!

There is a flyer with all this information here. (Clicking will download a pdf document you can print out and show to your parents. (Or your kid.)
DFWTWlogo-2011-06-12-11-49.jpg
We’ll cover the basics of story, conflict, character, and voice with weekly pro guest speakers:
  • A. Lee Martinez - Sci Fi / Fantasy Author
  • Candy Havens - Author / Entertainment Journalist
  • Jenny Martin - Young Adult Author / Librarian
  • Kate Cornell - Screen Writer
  • Kirk von der Heydt - Teacher / Writer
  • Rosemary Clement-Moore - Young Adult Author
Writing topics to be covered:
  • How to give and take constructive criticism
  • Conflict and Plot
  • Characterization
  • Developing your own voice
  • Nonfiction / Journalism
  • Publication
Each meeting will have an interactive session with a writing coach covering aspects of writing and publishing. There will be free writing exercises and then opportunities for critique from your peers, as well as experienced and professional writers.

For information, you can email the head of the teen workshop. Or if you have questions, you can email me. (But to sign up, you have to email dfw teen workshop.)

On the first session there is a 12:30 sign up meeting that a parent needs to attend. The rest of the time, it just teens and pros.

You can check out the teen workshop facebook page and follow DFW Teen Writers on Twitter.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Where I'll be roundup

Before you read this, you should be-bop over to Carrie Harris's blog and read her Bookanista review of Texas Gothic. (There's another surprise for a fellow Bookanista as well.)

DFW TEEN WRITERS WORKSHOP

Staring Saturday, June 18, I'll be participating in the DFW Writer's Workshop Teen Workshop. (Boy, that sentence was redundant.) It will run Saturdays from June 18th to July 30, from 1pm to 3 pm, and cover all topics about writing, plus free writing time and critique opportunities. You can find out more and sign up by contacting dfwteenwriters@gmail.com. (I'll post more about this soon here.)

Saturday, June 11, Allen Texas

If you are in the metroplex, and you're looking for a fun event this weekend (or just looking for a place to wear your sparkly tiara), I will be at the Boas & Tiaras Reader Event in Allen, Texas, along with a WAY impressive list of authors, including:

Nalini Singh, Rachel Gibson, Julia Quinn, Vicki Lewis Thompson, Dianna Love, Dakota Cassidy, Michele Bardsley, Jaye Wells, Lorraine Heath, Nikki Duncan, Rachel Caine, Vicki Pettersson, Kay Thomas, and Lori Wilde. The Fabulous Candace Havens will emcee the event.

Tickets are $45 and include fancy tea, a private authors signing, book sales, plus door prizes, raffles baskets,  as well as special interview with Nalini Singh. Book Sale proceeds and raffle ticket monies go to Plano Family Literacy Center.

Here's the site if you want tickets.


Saturday, June 25, Birmingham, AL

For a FREE event, I'll be in Birmingham, AL on Saturday, June 25, speaking at the Homewood Public Librarywith young adult authors Jennifer Echols, Rachel Moore Hawkins, Chandra Sparks Taylor, and R.A. Nelson.

The program starts at 1:30, and we will be signing books afterward. It's more of a "writing YA panel"--we'll be talking nuts and bolts and publishing. If that's interesting to you, or heck, even if you're just a reader who wants to come hear some FABULOUS authors, come and see us. (Event is put on by the Southern Magic RWA Chapter.)

Tuesday, June 28, New York, NY

I'll be participating in the giant, humongous annual RWA Literacy Signing at the RWA conference in NYC. The signing is completely open to the public and takes place at the Marriot in Times Square. Lots of details, including HUNDREDS of authors participating, here.

More soon, I promise!

R.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bookanistas: Hourglass by Myra McEntire

What the back of the book says: 
Seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole has been plagued by phantoms since her parents' death. She's tried everything, but the visions keep coming back. So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson's willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.

Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he's around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?

Full of atmosphere, mystery, and romance, Hourglass merges the very best of the paranormal and science-fiction genres in a seductive, remarkable young adult debut.
Here’s what I say: 
I’ve been looking forward to reading this book ever since it came across my radar. I love time travel as a plot device, and Hourglass has a great premise--girl with a special talent, gorgeous guy with the answers, secret organization of secretly talented individuals...
This was a quite enjoyable read, and I think that readers of light paranormals like Hex Hall or Paranormalcy will really love it, especially if they like a strong dose of romance with their SFF. Emerson was a likable heroine with a compelling backstory, and McEntire has a nice touch with the world building (the timey-wimey stuff, to quote Doctor Who), giving enough to convey understanding and internal consistency, without weighing things down.
The main focus in this book is on relationships. I really liked Emerson’s brother and sister-in-law and her friend Lily, but of course, the big draw here will be the love interest, Michael. He’s mysterious and infuriating and compelling, as a romantic interest should be. I think teen readers will find that most enjoyable. 
The science fiction-slash-mystery-slash-adventure part of the plot picks up in the second half, and for me that’s where I was drawn in. There were some very nice twists and surprises, and I appreciate that McEntire gives a satisfying ending here, even though there are a number of threads that will obviously continue into the sequel. 
I do feel like more time could have been given earlier to learning about the Hourglass and how you actually travel through time. If you don’t like the romance stuff, you might get frustrated in the middle, where more time is spent worrying about boy-girl stuff, past the point where I thought they should be training for the big dangerous thing they needed to do. 
That said, the boy-girl stuff was nicely done, and WILL satisfy those who DO like that sort of thing. And I admit, not everyone loves ye olde training montage like I do. 
A highly readable high concept novel that will please lovers of romance and light paranormal adventure. 
What else are the Bookanistas talking about today? Check it out: 
Elana Johnson gushes over Blood Magic
LiLa Roecker  & Shelli Johannes-Wells  adore Hourglass
Christine Fonseca  sings high praises for Possess – with giveaway
Shannon Messenger applauds A Need So Beautiful – with giveaway
Megan Miranda has a passion for Possession
Carolina Valdez Miller sees beauty in Between Shades of Gray
Bethany Wiggins finds Bad Taste in Boys delicious
Shana Silver  celebrates A Need So Beautiful
Stasia Ward Kehoe delights in Delirium
Carrie Harris thinks Wrapped simply rocks
Sarah Frances Hardy finds the awesome in Okay for Now