Twilight with the Sistahs

My sisters and I love going to midnight movie and book releases together. Yes, we are those people standing in line at midnight at the Barnes & Noble striking up conversations with complete strangers over our love of Harry Potter or silly (and oh-so-fabulous) angsty teen vampire stories. It’s our thing, and it’s one thing we always do together. So, of course, we so had to go to the midnight showing of Eclipse!

My friend Cyn scored us some tickets to an exclusive event with a group called the Saga Sisters who’d rented out a full theater and did some fun giveaways before the show. I won a cookie in the raffle — w00t! Free cookie!

Anyway, I know they’d kill me if they knew I was posting these pics of them. Ha! {evil grin} Meet my goofy, awesome sisters who are totally willing to geek out with me!

loving . . . going bovine

Going Bovine Going Bovine by Libba Bray
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have to admit that Going Bovine surprised me–it’s quite the departure from the Gemma Doyle Trilogy! But Libba Bray’s newest tale is a madcap adventure that, at times, makes you sad, but always makes you glad to be alive. With Going Bovine, Bray seems to have found her voice: hysterically funny, intelligent, daring, and delightfully unapologetic. Any author who can work “epic fail” and a Disney ride so lame that it’s cool into her book is definitely in touch with her inner teen. I hope Bray continues to write stories this well-developed and satisfying.

That said, Going Bovine is not for everyone. It takes a certain appreciation for the mad non-sequiter to be able to love the twists and turns in this story. If you enjoy David Foster Wallace’s work, you might really like this one.

chicago adventures 2009

mom at eno

mom at eno

This year, I attended the American Library Association’s annual conference in Chicago. What an amazing experience! Being a fellow book nerd, my mom came with me, and we had a great time attending events and playing around the city!

Our first stop Thursday evening after checking into the hotel was a fun restaurant, Eno, which specializes in cheese, wine, and chocolate. Yum! Mom and I each ordered a selection of goat cheeses, which were served with two types of bread, a fruit spread, olives, and nuts. We were too full to even consider ordering chocolate. Sacrilege, I know!

Friday was set aside for playing. First on the list? The American Girls store! We picked up some fun Molly and Bitty Baby Twins gear for my nieces, Cali and Jordan. And I couldn’t resist buying a little dress and boots for the Kirsten doll that I’ve had for ages and ages. {Into the trunk they go!} After that it was a quick jaunt to H&M, a must on any big-city trip. We don’t have one in Salt Lake. At this point we had to hurry so we could make our train to Wrigley Field! Two adorable new shirts for me!

The Cubbies got creamed. I’m thrilled to have been at that game though! And so happy that it didn’t get rained out like we thought it would — it was iffy there for a moment. Hot dogs, beer, and the rush of screaming at the Cubbies pitcher when he loaded the bases not once but twice in one inning! The agony! Cards win 8 to 3.

game on

game on

Because of the game delay, we missed the YALSA mixer and fashion show, but that was okay — we were wiped out after the game!

Saturday was an early morning for me — first session on storytimes at 8 am. While my focus is teens, I need to keep up to speed on the latest research in early childhood development and literacy. We don’t have young adult specialists at the county, so . . . off I went to learn about storytime innovations. What a fascinating and fun class!

However, in hind sight, I would have ditched it to mob the Scholastic booth for an Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) of Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games. More agony! I threw myself on the mercy of the Scholastic publishers and begged for a copy. But they’d printed such a select few of them that there is no possible way I can get one unless someone puts it up for auction on eBay. In which case, I’ll suck it up and wait ‘til September.

judy blume signs mom's book

judy blume signs mom's book

There is, however, a huge bright side. I met Arthur Levine — one of the premiere children’s book editors in the United States and editor of Scholastic’s Arthur A. Levine Books imprint. Go look at the spine of your copy of any US version of Harry Potter. Yes! That Arthur Levine! He was ever so gracious while I begged him for a book.

In the exhibit hall, there were so many free ARCs of books coming out this fall. I, of course, focused on collecting upcoming teen books so that I can read and get my reviews posted on Good Reads before the books actually come out. I didn’t quite make it through all of my ARCs from Mid-Winter conference {sigh}. Bad Kim. They also had seriously discounted copies of books that are already out for sale. Nice! I had a chance to meet and talk with Judy Blume (Blubber; Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret; Forever; Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing). Wow — what an inspiration she is! Her books have been challenged, banned, and loved by kids and teens all over the world for at least three decades. Meeting this children’s publishing icon was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’ll never forget. I also met Debbie Macomber, Cathie Linz, Eloisa James, and Laura Caldwell. Toss out any preconceived notions you might have about romance writers — these women are brilliant! Where else could you find a professor with a PhD in Shakespeare from Yale and a law professor from Loyola who aren’t afraid of some seriously bright pink book covers? {laughs} I’ve got Laura’s contact info, and I need to shoot her an e-mail once I’ve finished her latest book.

clowning around with libba bray

clowning around with libba bray

Other highlights of the trip? The Margaret Edwards award luncheon in which we watched Laurie Halse Anderson (Speak, Catalyst, Wintergirls) receive a lifetime achievement award. The YA Coffee Klatch and Morris Award for a first time YA author — this year’s winner was Elizabeth Bunce for A Curse as Dark as Gold. We were able to meet so many authors at this event! Libba Bray (A Great and Terrible Beauty) was so incredibly funny and energetic! We also met James Kennedy (who my mom swears looks like Hugh Grant), Christopher Meyers (Walter Dean Meyers’ son and a fabulous artist), and Andrew Smith (Ghost Medicine), just to name a few.

We also attended a wonderful gala and film preview at the Gene Siskel Film Center. Look for an outstanding American Masters documentary on Louisa May Alcott airing on your local PBS channel at the end of December. The flimmakers put an extraordinary amount of work into the research and the production. I learned a lot just from the sneak peek!

I went to some amazing sessions as well; notably, the Comics and Censorship panel with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund team and comic book authors Neil Gaiman (also this year’s Newbery award winner for The Graveyard Book), Craig Thompson (Blankets), and Terry Moore (Strangers in Paradise). What a wonderful, talented, and funny group of people! They’re so smart and passionate, not to mention so dedicated to promoting literacy and defending first amendment rights. I walked out of that room practically floating.

neil gaiman (right) and the comic book legal defense fund team

neil gaiman (right) and the comic book legal defense fund team

The trip finished with the Michael Printz award and reception, where we heard this year’s honor and prize winners speak. The Printz award is like the Newbery for teen literature. I need to read Jellicoe Road, this year’s winner. I’m happy that I’ve already read some of the honor winners (whew!).

It’s times like this that I’m so unbelievably grateful for my life and the experiences I’ve had. And being able to share all of this with my mom made it even better! I missed Chris terribly, but we kept in touch through instant messaging on our iPhones. Gotta love technology! And I had so much fun sharing the conference with all of you via Twitter!

Later today, I hope to participate in some design challenges — need to get my stamping on! {laughs and shakes head}


raspberry suite challenge 12

So, I got so many books at ALA, that I had to ship them home. The two boxes arrived this morning, shortly after I posted about my trip! Hooray! Here’s a shot of my loot, piled up on my desk. {grins and claps hands in delight} You can’t see him, but Chris is looking on in horror in the background. He’s so understanding. Frankly, compared to the boxes that came home after Mid-Winter Conference, I was a paragon of self-discipline!

So after I cleared my desk, I made this card for Dawn’s challenge this week: bright pink, celery, deep red, and cream. It’s not my favorite project ever, but it’s kinda cute. I’m trying to keep the modern, eclectic, boutique style that I’ve developed lately, but work in a stamped image. You know, not just a greeting . . . . This is close. I think a little more practice, and I’ll be there!

Alrighty! I have a lofty goal of getting in a card for Tina’s challenge too. Deadline: 6:30 MT. We’re meeting some friends for dinner, so I have to impose a deadline. Wish me luck!

loving . . . peace, love, and baby ducks

Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Anyone who has ever had a sister will find some moment in Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks that resonates with them. This was one of the most enjoyable “real world” young adult books that I’ve ever read. The voice was compelling and, as a whole, it simply rang true to me in a way that few books of this sort do. Lauren Myracle has a way with words and an ability to delve to the heart of her characters’ situation (in a YA novel) in a way that I’ve previously only discovered in John Green’s writing.

My little sister, Tine, just finished this book, and she also liked it. Although, she is quick to point out, it doesn’t compare to TTYL! She prefers the Lauren’s more light-hearted works.

loving . . . maggie quinn

Prom Dates from Hell (Maggie Quinn: Girl vs Evil)Hell Week (Maggie Quinn: Girl vs. Evil) Highway to Hell

Prom Dates from Hell, Hell Week, and Highway to Hell by Rosemary Clement-Moore
My rating on all three books: 5 of 5 stars

Prom Dates from Hell
How much do I love Maggie Quinn? So much! This is the answer to my Buffy withdrawal. Finally! Maggie (intrepid photojournalist and resident psychic), Lisa (our future overlord), and Justin (knight in shining sneakers) are new-found friends that I look forward to meeting again. Clement-Moore can write snappy dialogue, intense plots, and true-to-life relationships (with a huge dose of paranormal) just as well as any of the Buffy and Angel writers. (I love that she constantly references those shows! Yes, I’m celebrating in my own special geekdom over here.)

Hell Week
I sped through this book immediately on the heels of Prom Dates from Hell, and enjoyed it just as much, if not more. Clement-Moore’s fast-paced and amazingly original story, as well as the characters I now love, have me hooked. I appreciated that she stuck true to the outcome and carried through with the consequences of the events in Prom, namely the damage to Maggie and Lisa’s relationship.

Highway to Hell
It’s Maggie Quinn vs. el chupacabra! Every series needs a good road trip, and Lisa and Maggie’s is a doozy. One notable addition is Justin’s priest-in-training friend Henry, only mentioned in previous books. Henry adds a nice skeptical balance to our trio of believers, and I sincerely hope he makes an appearance in the next book. Now we have our heroine (our chosen one–not capitalized!), our sorceress, our hero/knight, and our priest. Excellent! The second notable addition to this series is the intensification of Maggie’s role in the universe — clearly she has a Purpose (yes, that one’s capitalized). Can’t wait to see where this goes.

I haven’t mentioned yet how much I love the artwork for this series. I would love a set of posters with these drawings on it. Chris agrees that these need to hang in our house somewhere.

loving . . . the hunger games

The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, #1) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Suzanne Collins’ view of a post-apocalyptic America, divided into twelve districts, is nothing short of revolutionary. The Hunger Games begins with a simple enough premise: twenty-four teens are chosen to participate in what is essentially a reality show. It’s also a test of survival, a show of political power by a corrupt government, and a proving ground for the worst traits in human nature where surviving may mean losing your humanity.

The Hunger Games is full of gripping, luminous characters that worm their way under your skin–or, in Katniss’ case, bulldoze their way in–and leave you needing more time with them. But not only is it the characters you see that make an impression: the entire country is watching these kids struggle to overcome the Gamemakers, the elements, and each other. It makes you wonder who these people are and how they can condone this year after year. It also makes you think about exactly how close we are to becoming this very society.

This book is the best I’ve read so far this year. The waiting list, at my library at least, is a testament to how popular this book is among teens, and adults should not overlook it. If you can’t get it at your local library, buy it. It’s more than worth it.

loving . . . strange angels

Strange Angels (Strange Angels #1) Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Strange Angels is a fun start to a series that will appeal to any fan of Cassandra Clare or Scott Westerfeld . . . or the movie Underworld, which it more closely resembles. St. Crow delivers a tightly-written, fast-paced, novel full of paranormal action that exceeds the expectations set by the blurb on the back. I went in expecting the usual vampire/shifter/girl love triangle. And I got something so much better.

Despite the vampires, werewolves, zombies, etc. that inhabit St. Crow’s world, at the heart of this book is Dru’s struggle with intimacy and the way she is forced to accept others into her life, which she is so not ready to do. Graves’ and Dru’s relationship makes this book, while the action keeps it moving along. But, beyond that, there’s also the intriguing and unique spin that St. Crow has put on vampire lore–one that is better than Stephanie Meyers’. I will definitely pick up the next one in the series.

loving . . . the forest of hands and teeth

The Forest of Hands and Teeth The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I sat down with an advanced copy of The Forest of Hands and Teeth around midnight on Friday night, expecting to be able to put it down after a chapter and pick it up again in the morning. Yeah, that was a mistake. Around 3:00 in the morning, I turned off the light. And lay there, wide awake, thinking about this book, for another hour.

Carrie Ryan’s tale is one that will get in your head and refuse to leave–it is truly one of the most haunting tales I’ve read in a very long time. I described it to a friend as “a movie producer’s dream mash-up of The Village and 28 Days Later, only better.” I would recommend this book to any girl who loves a good chilling tale.

Carrie read this review, originally posted on GoodReads, and let me know that the sequel, The Dead Tossed Waves, will be out next year.